The Obama administration’s proposed defense budget calls for military families and retirees to pay sharply more for their healthcare, while leaving unionized civilian defense workers’ benefits untouched. The proposal is causing a major rift within the Pentagon, according to U.S. officials. Several congressional aides suggested the move is designed to increase the enrollment in Obamacare’s state-run insurance exchanges.
The disparity in treatment between civilian and uniformed personnel is causing a backlash within the military that could undermine recruitment and retention.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
As duplicative and wasteful federal programs go unreformed, a report published Tuesday by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) affirms that the government is wasting "tens of billions of dollars" every year. According to the GAO, a nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress, nearly every agency of the Executive Branch could use improvement.
The report shows 51 areas and proposes 130 actions for reform, following a 2011 report that identified 81 areas and 176 actions to be taken to "reduce or eliminate unnecessary duplication, overlap, or fragmentation or achieve other potential financial benefits."
"Collectively, these reports show that, if the actions are implemented, the government could potentially save tens of billions of dollars annually," Comptroller General Gene Dodaro (above left) asserted during Tuesday's hearing in the House Oversight and Government Relations Committee.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Some people think the free market is full of greedy men who respond to monetary stimuli. But this isn’t the essence of a market (despite some types of those men acting within the free market). Rather, self-interest is “whatever it is that interests the participants, whatever they value, whatever goals they pursue.” This is why an economy is very much like any industry: science, linguistics, theology, etc. In each industry there is the attempt to build and grow the knowledge within the field, so that the bad ideas will dissolve over time and the good ideas succeed and live on.
So what is the role of the government in all of this? In a way, the government is like a market because people voluntarily choose what they believe is the most effective way of achieving something (like universal healthcare). Friedman points to local governments as entities where we can object to what the government does because we can move. And yet government is more than a voluntary cooperation of individuals because “it is also the agency that is widely regarded as having a monopoly on the legitimate use of force or the threat of force as the means through which some of us can legitimately imposes restraints through force upon others.”
o More than two-to-one support for personal retirement accounts.
o Recognition that big government is the greatest danger to America’s future.
o Strong support for bureaucrat layoffs and/or entitlement reforms instead of higher taxes.
o And my favorite poll results are the ones showing that voters understand that the goal is less spending, not lower deficits.
Monday, February 27, 2012
For many years, the military was the last bastion of resistance against the bankruptcy of progressive thinking. No longer. Three vivid illustrations of what those who volunteer to defend this nation must now endure, stand as a beacon to the corruption that political correctness brings wherever it is unleashed. I could not be sadder for those who put themselves in harm's way. They deserve far better.
Sunday, February 26, 2012
It is insane that we get our health care from our employers. That happens because we have given a tax advantage to in-kind compensation such as health care. It’s a horrible idea and it leads people to complain about our employers deciding what health care we can receive. Our employers are just a conduit for government mandates, rent-seeking and inefficiency related to health care. What the government has done is tax-advantage health care via employers and then tell them what has to be covered. So the real outrage is that because of this, the government mandates the mix of my compensation package, biasing it toward a luxury health-care package that is the result of special interest clamoring.
Unions hate vouchers because if such a system was instituted, it would mean that more kids would be attending private schools which are not unionized. This would result in less money and power for the teachers unions. Hence, when it comes to a chance for a poor kid to go to a better school via the voucher route, the NJ union boss is essentially saying, “Sorry, but we are going to keep you in your place.” (I can imagine Giordano telling Rosa Parks after complaining that she shouldn’t have to sit in the back of the bus, “Tough cookies Rosa, life’s not always fair.”)
Saturday, February 25, 2012
The postal service is an example of where the blue model goes when it has jumped the shark. Old technology, expensive and unproductive labor, crushing pension and health care burdens for retirees plus insane congressional mandates that make sound management impossible: not even a monopoly on mail delivery can rescue an organization weighed down with these burdens.
Congress should spend more time passing laws to protect the public against the depraved greed of insider trading legislators and worry less about micromanaging institutions it doesn’t understand and can’t run.
And the country should be thinking about how we sell off the USPS to private investors while there is still something to sell.
Let's be frank; Afghanistan is a primitive, backward country that will always be a primitive and backward country. Eventually, the Taliban or something similar will be back in power. President Karzai is a corrupt and ungrateful leader who is not worth propping up any longer.
Nation-building doesn't work, except when you are dealing with civilizations like Japan or Germany. Afghanistan is no Japan or Germany. Neither is Pakistan. Neither is Iraq. In the immortal words of Newt Gingrich, just the other day, we should tell Karzai, "Good bye and good luck."ation-building doesn't work, except when you are dealing with civilizations like Japan or Germany. Afghanistan is no Japan or Germany
Isn't it curious how little interest the mainstream media has in the whereabouts of one Jon Corzine?
Although he changed a sleepy little broker into a criminal enterprise by making trades for which there was no adequate oversight (compliance supervision) in violation of all kinds of regulations the rumor on Wall Street is that there will be no criminal prosecutions.
Could this be because he is a major fund raiser for Obama and one of the Democrat political elites?
Mark Steyn: The all-you-can-eat salad bar of rights | rights, government, free - Opinion - The Orange County Register
Perversion of the concept of rights is killing the Western world.
Beyond the myths and fallacies of socialism, Keynesianism, and regulatory welfare statism, and beyond the junk science of fraudulent sham environmentalism, and beyond the rotten philosophical and ethical underpinnings of leftism, when it comes to basic motivations and the attitudes that drive the left-wing mindset, one will look in vain for a non-psychological explanation -- and one does not have to be a trained psychologist to be able to discern the whim-worshipping, power-lusting infantile complex that underlies leftism and its hatred for private property, capitalism, freedom, humankind, the United States, and non-arbitrary morality.
One reason dizzy liberals hate and fear principled freedom advocates so much is that we individualists often render value judgments -- and when the Liberal Mentality hears someone render a value judgment with which the "liberal" disagrees, the liberal wants to pretend that the value judgment is "invalid" because "there are never any absolutes" (a statement which, if true, is self-contradictory and therefore false). So, when a rational individualist renders a value judgement that a liberal doesn't like, the liberal often tries to attack ALL value judgements as invalid rather than dealing with the specific issue at hand -- and sometimes even accuses the principled individualist of wanting to "legislate morality" or somehow forcibly impose his moral judgement on him!
Obama to Law Enforcement: Stop Linking Muslims to Terrorism � Publications � Family Security Matters
In yet another curtsy to the politically correct orthodoxy, President Barack Obama's White House plans to tinker with federal police curriculums for counterterrorism training classes. The first bit of "revamping" is the removal of all material that groups, such as the Council on American Islamic Relations, or CAIR, find offensive or containing a "negative" image of Muslims.
It’s a government-wide call to end Islamophobia, according to a blog by a Washington, DC-based watchdog group that investigates, exposes and prosecutes government corruption.
A few months after the Obama White House ordered an investigation of government counterterrorism training, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has destroyed instructional material that characterizes Muslims as prone to violence or terrorism, according to the Judicial Watch blog.
Someone obviously whispered in our Dear Leader's ear that gas prices have skyrocketed, and it wasn't polling well. So he decided to address the peons in front of a friendly crowd at th eUniversity of Miami, Florida, telling them in effect 'hey, it's not my fault, it's the greedy oil companies so stop whining and go buy a Volt or something.'
The speech was so ruthlessly cynical and lacking in truth that it would take more space than it's worth to fully debunk it, but there are several points worth underlining:
Distorting the economy is not, as NPR suggests, an unwanted side effect of Obama's proposals; it is his avowed aim, because he thinks he knows how resources should be distributed better than the market does. As long as we have leaders with this kind of overblown faith in their own knowledge, wisdom, and competence, we will have "a tax system that's a complex, inefficient, and loophole-riddled mess."
These selections lay out my views of the proper role of government, namely that it should serve only to protect the life and property of its citizens. I respect the Constitution not because of a nostalgic attachment to an anachronistic document, but because the Founders knew the danger in allowing government to overstep its legitimate functions. It is unfortunate that many Americans today don’t understand the Founders’ wisdom in framing our government on the principles of federalism and republicanism—as opposed to “democracy.” A free society can only work when its members agree that there are certain things left to the discretion of individuals—no matter what a temporary majority might think. In practice this means the government must respect private property and the rule of law, or what is also called free market capitalism.
Where, ultimately, can PC take us? One forecast was published in 1949 by George Orwell. In his book 1984, Orwell, characterizing "newspeak," wrote, "The destruction of words is a beautiful thing." Big Brother, the personification of the power of the state, through newspeak "simplified" words (gave them definitions he determined) to better control society. With the simplification of words, the younger generations knew only Big Brother's version of reality. Is PC today's newspeak?
I won't even go into the entire issue of leftist mainstream media bias, which has been taken up in many other venues many times.
The pattern remains the same. To physically prevent people access to alternate
worldviews or information instead of persuasing them by rational argument of the truth of your own position.
None of these techniques (rhetorical ploys, logical fallacies, or physical control) are unique to one side of the political spectrum or the other certainly; but in today's political climate, most of the denial manifested is coming from the left with few exceptions.
So, does the left understand psychological denial? Probably about as much as they understand religious liberty; i.e., not at all.
Friday, February 24, 2012
Have we become so hypersensitive that a phrase in use for half a millennia must now be banished from the English lexicon? I'm speaking, of course, of the furor created last week when ESPN's mobile site ran a story headlined "A Chink in the Armor."
The idiom is commonly used to describe the vulnerability in an otherwise impenetrable defense. Its etymology goes back to the Middle Ages, when knights in battle wore suits of armor that covered their bodies head to foot. Opponents looked for small openings -- chinks -- through which they might thrust their swords or other weapons.
People like her are why I insist that our schools need to spend more time on basic personal finance (and less time on the postmodern goop and self-esteem nonsense that they seem to be so good at purveying). These people bought an expensive house, and I assume they are well-educated, yet they didn’t understand some basic things. Even reading this book would have helped since it would have discouraged her and her family from thinking of her house as an asset. Too late now.
How many voters did the 1,000-plus-page stimulus package buy? How many voters do the promises of ObamaCare and other spending programs lure? I would wager far more voters than the number who understand the disastrous impact of such measures on the economy.
Obama knows exactly what he's doing. He and his Democrat trainers are passing out treats, with leashes attached. And the majority of Americans have learned to heel.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
So, Just How Ridiculously Dumb Is Obama's Muslim-Appeasing Apology For The Afghan Quran Burning? :: Political News and commentaries :: Hyscience
Up front, why is it that the whole damned world has to be so concerned about loony Muslim "sensitivities" ... other than the fact that they're so prone to acting like they're living in the 6th Century and have no place in the modern world. Meanwhile where's all the outrage and concern for Christian and Jewish 'sensitivities' over all the Christians and Jews murdered and discriminated against all over the world by Muslims ... what about their sensitivities!
The British government has tried to raise tax revenues by raising tax rates on the highest income Britons. The January 2012 self-assessed tax returns were anticipated to provide more revenue because it was the first reporting period of the new, highest 50% tax rate for the highest earners. The Treasury, however, has reported that instead of tax revenues rising during that reporting period, revenues actually dropped from �10.86 billion in January 2011 to �10.35 billion in January 2012.
Senior British Treasury officials have said that this was the consequence of rich Britons maneuvering to avoid paying the higher tax rates. The Treasury data does not reveal exactly how much of the drop in revenue occurred in the new, high tax bracket (the data covered all self-assessment reporting for that period); no one doubts where the drop in taxes occurred.
Every single American will feel some serious financial pain in 2013, [right after the Presidential elections] due to major, stealthily-enacted, and semi-hidden tax increases, along with numerous EPA-mandated regulations that will result in skyrocketing energy prices across the country. All of this will happen because Congress is currently paralyzed against acting responsibly due to it being an election year, where the DC power brokers, lobbyists and campaign spin-masters will threaten to pull the billions of dollars of support they give to current members of Congress if they refuse to allow them and their cronies their daily feeding at the taxpayer-funded cash trough. See the latest debacle called the 2012 tax cut extension for the perfect example of how dysfuntional Congress has become while serving under a President who is too busy campaigning on the taxpayer dime to actually work with Congress for real solutions to this country’s massive debt problems.
I sometimes think that Republicans are genetically compelled to bring water pistols to a gun fight. While I acknowledge that it's difficult to combat the bully pulpit the Left commands, thanks to a corrupt media, I really am sick and tired of hearing Mitch McConnell referring to "Our friends on the other side of the aisle." Harry Reid is not your friend. Charles Schumer, Patrick Leahy and Dick Durbin, are not your friends. What's more, Barbara Boxer, Patty Murray and Dianne Feinstein, are not going to the prom with you. Get over it.
What I would like to know is why it is that the Democrats get to conduct recall campaigns against Governor Scott Walker and his Republican colleagues in the Wisconsin state legislature, but Republicans never return the favor. When liberal governors and left-wing state legislators push for same-sex marriages, ObamaCare and abortions on demand for 14-year-olds, why aren't we forcing them to devote their time and money to fighting recall elections?
How is it that when liberal members of state senates and assemblies roll over during negotiations with public service unions, driving their states into inevitable bankruptcy, they do so with impunity? I understand they are not motivated by a commitment to the labor movement, but because they want to be able to count on union volunteers and union funds when they inevitably run for re-election. But why don't we ever disrupt the honeymoon by recalling their sorry carcasses?
I'd also like to know why no Republican in Congress ever accuses Obama of anything worse than incompetence. When it comes to making repairs around the house, I'm incompetent. When it comes to figuring out why my computer does some of the mischievous things it does, I'm incompetent. However, when, at the very same time that China, North Korea and Iran, are all building up their armies and increasing the stockpile of nuclear bombs in the hands of madmen, Obama is gutting the U.S. military and promising to reduce our nuclear arsenal by 80%, that can't be explained away as mere incompetence. Let's face it, if a foreign power had the ability to lower our defense capability that easily, they'd leave us no option but to declare war on them.
For all the nonsense about respecting the Office of the President, when the commander-in-chief insists on surrounding himself with the likes of Eric Holder, Van Jones, Kathleen Sibelius, Valerie Jarrett and Jacob Lew, he deserves about as much respect as George Soros or any of those Occupy Wall Street creeps defecating on the sidewalk.
Last year, Obama came up with a budget that was so odious that even his cronies in the Senate voted it down unanimously. Not one to take "No" for an answer, he came back this year with a budget that raised taxes on people in America who make over a million dollars a year, while not asking a plugged nickel from the 47% who don't pay a dime in income taxes.
He also proposed raising capital gains taxes by 30% and taxing stock dividends at the same rate as regular income. It's a one-two punch that would destroy the Stock Market. Even Obama's good friend Warren Buffet wouldn't invest under those conditions. What's more, he would probably fire that secretary he's always yakking about.
Not satisfied with destroying Wall Street, Obama also wants to destroy Main Street by raising taxes on small businesses.
And lest anyone think that they can evade the grasp of the IRS by simply dying, he wants to raise death taxes from 35% to 45%. Under his tax policy, you not only can't take it with you, you can't even leave it behind.
What is so confounding about all this is that Obama owes so much to Wall Street, having been the biggest recipient of campaign donations from banks and lending institutions in the history of American politics. And as an Illinois politician, he knows better than most how indebted the Democrats are to dead people for their loyal support down through the years. This is obviously one dog that believes in biting the hands that feed it.
To top things off, we have to listen to Press Secretary Jay Carney telling us, on behalf of Obama, that we didn't know how bad the economy was when candidate Obama swore to cut the national debt in half by the end of his first term. And yet, if memory serves, in 2008, it was his boss who declared, "I think we all know that we are in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression."
I wasn't too crazy about Obama's "Hope and Change" slogan in 2008 and I'm not overly fond of his new one, "Winning the Future." Still, there's something to be said for its initials. WTF, indeed!
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
oftwominds-Charles Hugh Smith: When Risk Is Disconnected From Consequence, the System Itself Is at Risk
If we understand risk cannot be eliminated, it can only be transferred, then we will understand why the current financial trickery in Europe and elsewhere is doomed to fail.
The entire global economy's fundamental financial instability can be traced back to one simple rule of Nature: risk cannot be eliminated, it can only be transferred to others or masked. And when it is transferred to others or masked, then the causal feedback between risk and consequence is severed.
Once risk has been disconnected from consequence, then it is impossible to discover the price of capital and risk. Once capital and risk have been mispriced, then the inevitable result is misallocation of capital and a positive feedback loop of self-referential, self-reinforcing risk.
Once the causal negative feedback of the real world--consequence--is no longer available to those taking on risk, then only positive feedback remains. Positive feedback inevitably leads to runaway reactions that self-destruct.
The point of this column is not to impugn the integrity of the often dedicated and selfless people who comprise the Religious Left in America. These folks deserve commendation for the fact that, in an increasingly nihilistic world, they have values and they largely stick to them. The point, however, is to state that among the Religious Left, their leftism generally trumps their religiosity. Few of the Protestants who support women priests, Gay bishops, or the anti-American hysteria of the Reverend Wright will disown the Democratic Party in November. Likewise, one would be wise to refrain from betting that the pro-abortion, pro-birth control Catholics will permanently stray from their home in the Obama wing of the Democratic Party. They may be making a little noise right now, but they will return home this coming Fall.
In a world that now equates social work with piety, and rallies, demonstrations and “occupations” with theology, the activist side gets the upper hand. Among liberal Christians their liberal side usually takes the measure of their Christianity. This is a grim fact that those who predict a massive religious defection from Obama and the Democrats would do well to remember.
American Majority Dependent on Government: How Dangerous is it? � Publications � Family Security Matters
As of 2011, almost 45 million Americans are on foodstamps, approximately one in seven people. In New York City 1.8 million citizens collect foodstamps, one in four. Forty-seven percent of Americans do not pay a personal income tax and most of these people receive subventions from the government. Thirty-six percent of Americans who file tax forms do not a pay personal income tax. The number of those in a condition of poverty increased 9.5 percent since 2009, with a total of 43.6 million.Again, almost all of these individuals receive government assistance of one kind or another.
My contention isn’t merely that we spend more than we can afford—an obvious and well treated concern. I would assert that despite positive signs in the economic picture, we are nearing the “tipping point,” a transformative moment when a majority of Americans are dependent on government largess. This is the path Americans have been on for some time, but it has been accelerated by the policies of the Obama administration.
Like vampires fleeing a cross, the secular world shudders and trembles at the sight of Rick Santorum delivering a speech about good and evil at Ave Maria University in Florida in 2008. Santorum's statement came 25 years after another much-maligned social conservative, Ronald Reagan, delivered a similarly fiery but much-needed statement in Florida in 1983. In both cases, our liberal friends recoiled in horror, mortified that any American other than Barack Obama or Jimmy Carter might dare remark on matters of faith and state, of the temporal and eternal.
He pointed out that a child born to a poor woman in the Bronx enters the world with far worse prospects than a child born to an affluent couple in Connecticut.
No one can deny that. The relevant question, however, is: How does allowing politicians to take more money in taxes from successful people, to squander in ways that will improve their own reelection prospects, make anything more “fair” for others?
Even if additional tax revenue all went to poor single mothers — which it will not — the multiple problems of children raised by poor single mothers would not be cured by throwing money at them. Indeed, the skyrocketing of unwed motherhood began when government welfare programs began throwing money at teenage girls who got pregnant.
We have reached the strange point where Congressional Republicans are being congratulated for cooperating with the Obama administration in passing harmful legislation, both for the purpose of short-run political gain.
While the substance of the ruse is not justiciable, the use of laws as screens for executive power not bound to law and even contrary to law should remind the Justices of the reason why non-delegation has been a principle of law for 2,000 years, why they learned it in law school, and why it might be a good idea to steer the ship America back in its direction.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Instapundit � Blog Archive � SOMEHOW, I THINK THIS ROBERT HEINLEIN QUOTE IS WORTH REPEATING ONE MORE TIME: Throughout hist…
SOMEHOW, I THINK THIS ROBERT HEINLEIN QUOTE IS WORTH REPEATING ONE MORE TIME:
Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.
This is known as “bad luck.”
The book is short — just 160 pages — but its simple, clear, and direct language makes a big point: that capitalism “is the only system known to humanity that increases both growth and freedom.” As a result, far from ending, capitalism has spread to formerly socialist or communist enclaves such as Eastern Europe, India, and even China.
The book is not simply a paean to capitalism, though. It’s also a look at some of the problems the country is facing, including the decline in the value of the dollar, the financial crisis and its aftermath, and the federal debt and deficit.
Mr. Meltzer’s three laws of regulation help in part to explain the crisis. The first is that “lawyers and bureaucrats regulate,” but “markets circumvent regulation.” Second, and related, is that “regulations are static. Markets are dynamic.” Third, “regulation is most effective when it changes the incentives of the regulated.”
Monday, February 20, 2012
In defense of Rick Santorum: no matter what Obama and the media say, this election is going to be about freedom, not contraception
This election will be about the future of America.
Do Americans want a nation flooded with food-stamps and welfare payments, a European-style decline, and an out-of-control president who flouts the very Constitution upon which he took an oath to uphold?
Or do they want a return to founding principles, fiscal discipline and respect for the rule of law?
It is inconceivable to know that our Attorney General is fighting to block and overturn such legislation, including South Carolina’s whose governor has vowed to fight the federal government.
There is only one reason to oppose voter identity in this country; To enhance opportunities for voter fraud. For Eric Holder to oppose voter I.D. by slanting the same worn-out platitudes about “racial discrimination” is a far reach and has no substance. Sadly, gullible people fall for the ruse. This is the standard Obama administration outcry when there is no other legitimate defense for anti-American policies, like opposing state’s rights to defend borders, saying it creates profiling. The only reason to oppose voter I.D. is to muster illegal voters for a particular candidate.
The failure to move ahead with the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, as regular readers will know, has cost the U.S. in all sorts of ways—in diplomatic relationships, in energy security, and in jobs. About a month ago, Via Meadia covered a story that pointed to yet another loss: By forcing American refineries in the Gulf to import more expensive Brent crude rather than the cheaper West Texas Intermediate variety, the status quo is frittering away national wealth and GDP.
Although I'm far from being a supporter of Rick Santorum, on the matter of global warming being a 'theology,' there should be little doubt that he's absolutely right. What has happened is that the Left has combined theology and ideology into a church called global warming.
After all, isn't the Church of Global Warming one of the key institutions of liberal progressivism?
On the other hand, there are other pillars of liberal progressivsm that the Left uses to infiltrate and control our lives.
As Brian Sussman said in his piece at Human Events last month titled 'Teaching against climate change deniers,' show me an outspoken defender of human-induced climate change, and I will show you a left-leaning political ideologue.
And although I'm not one to question another man's faith, there are some that state what they believe to be valid reasons Obama is not a Christian.
What's Really At Stake In the Fight Against Same-Sex Marriage? :: Political News and commentaries :: Hyscience
If one looks at what's really behind the same-sex marriage legislation and agenda, it's goal is to de-naturalize the family by rendering familial relationships, in their entirety, expressions of law ... resulting in relationships that are bled as they are of the stuff of social tradition and experience ... they are no longer family relationships at all. They're nothing more than policy relationships, defined and imposed by the state.
Bob Janjuah: "Markets Are So Rigged By Policy Makers That I Have No Meaningful Insights To Offer" | ZeroHedge
I am staggered at how easily the concepts of Democracy and the Rule of Law – two of the pillars of the modern world – have been brushed aside in the interests of political expediency. This is not just a eurozone phenomenon but of course the removal of elected governments and the instalment of "insider" technocrats who simply serve the interests of the elite has become a specialisation in Europe. Many will think this kind of development is not a big deal and is instead may be what is needed. Personally I am absolutely certain that the kind of totalitarianism being pushed on us by our leaders will – if allowed to persist and fester – end with consequences which are way beyond anything the printing presses of our central banks could ever hope to contain. Communism failed badly. Why then are we arguably trying to resurrect a version of it, particularly in Europe? Are the banks so powerful that we are all beholden to them and the biggest nonsense of all – that defaults should never happen (unless said defaults are trivial or largely meaningless)?
Once the darling of the greens, wind turbines are spinning up a storm. Over in England, Sir Simon Jenkins, the chairman of the National Trust, which oversees millions of acres of protected land in the UK, came out strongly against wind energy recently, calling wind energy the least efficient form of renewable energy, and said his organization is constantly fighting the construction of wind turbines, which blight the beautiful British landscape.
Wind turbines have long been hated by those who live near them. They are huge, loud, not particularly attractive, and occasionally dangerous. A recent documentary shines a light on the trouble wind turbines (and the companies that fight for their construction) bring to local communities.
oftwominds-Charles Hugh Smith: Presidents Day: Why Can't We Nominate Our Own President? We Can, We Are
If the last 12 years have revealed anything, they have shown beyond reasonable doubt that both Status Quo political parties in the U.S. are hopelessly, ruinously corrupt and thus beyond any reform or redemption. We all know why: it now takes millions of dollars to run costly mainstream media election campaigns, and the only source for contributions of that scale is the financial/corporate Elite.
It doesn't matter how you arrange the taxonomy of the financial aristocracy that rules the nation or how you subdivide it--old money, new money, family money, corporate money, etc.-- the bottom line is these campaign contributions are viewed by the aristocratic donors as investments that yield gargantuan returns in tax breaks, subsidies, bailouts, sweetheart contracts, "get out of jail free" cards for the shadow banking system, and so on.
The unemployment rate we are fed each month is manipulated – fake, phony, false – not realistic, and the methods for determining the unemployment rate was new as of the January 2012 numbers. The real unemployment rate today is somewhere north of 10%. In January, when the unemployment rate dropped to 8.3%, the main stream media failed to report that the numbers, “seasonally adjusted,” for a one year period, were all applied to one month – January 2012.
Conservatives Need to Call Liberal Media On Biased, Ignorant Spin About Auto Bailout | NewsBusters.org
When it comes to the facts about the bailout and its aftermath, it’s actually Soledad O’Brien and other biased or ignorant reporter who are standing on the wrong side, and conservatives need to call them on it.
As I have noted, the bulk of the resurgence of the American auto industry has occurred not in the Motor City, but in the right-to-work red states where automakers such as Hyundai, BMW, and Toyota have set up shop. As of June 2011, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, GM and Chrysler employed 16,500 fewer people than in 2009. When President Obama and his supporters speak of the more than 100,000 new jobs the auto industry has added in the past two years, their statistics consist largely of jobs created by foreign-owned automakers in nonunion states far away from the plants of the bailed out companies.
Say Anything � Chinese Wages Increasing, Expect More Jobs To Return To The United States � Say Anything
Protectionists here in America have long bemoaned the exodus of manufacturing jobs to China, where labor was cheaper. They demanded tariffs and other policies to restrict trade with China on the assumption that such policies would drive jobs back to America.
But as it turns out, such policies weren’t necessary. Free markets have a tendency to find an equilibrium in prices, and the international labor markets are no different. As China’s economy modernizes, wages are coming up, lessening the cost benefits for outsourcing there:
GetLiberty.org >> Economy Will Not Recover Until After Environmental Regulations are Curtailed, Energy Experts Say
“There are a lot of important issues but I think the one that gets the least attention is the regulatory onslaught that is being conducted by the Obama Administration and the Democrats in the Senate,” he said. “Congress should set the standard, the EPA should come to Congress.”
Ebell also challenged President Obama’s worldview.
“We have a president who wants to turn the heartland of America into something that looks a lot like New England or California,” Ebell said. “He [Obama] thinks we can all be lawyers or financial analysts, or sit at a screen at all day. He has very little clue that our economy also depends on digging stuff up, growing stuff and making stuff. He is waging war on the heartland of America. His model is California and if you want to look at a state that has gone down the tubes look at California.”
Althouse: You'd think with her husband's reelection on the line, Michelle Obama would not go on another vacation.
My reaction? She must really need to get out of the White House. It looks awful for the campaign, which attempts to radiate concern for the economically downtrodden, to have her romping on another luxurious vacation. Aspen, for skiing, after Christmas in Hawaii, and — a while back — summer on Martha's Vineyard. These selections couldn't be more precisely chosen to inspire envy. You'd think they'd rein her in... or at least moderate the optics. What's going on? Are they super-confident of victory in November? Counting on our short memories? Or is getting Michelle away from the White House a big priority?
Why Won’t Washington Understand that Paying People to Be Unemployed Means More Unemployment? � International Liberty
I’ve written periodically about the perverse incentives of the unemployment insurance system. Simply stated, there will be fewer jobs if the government subsidizes joblessness, and I even showed that this is a consensus position by citing the academic writings of left-leaning economists such as Larry Summers and Paul Krugman.
The San Francisco Federal Reserve also has produced research measuring the negative impact of unemployment insurance on the job market.
Now we have some additional academic research on the topic, and the results once again show that the unemployment insurance program causes a significant increase in unemployment.
Sunday, February 19, 2012
It’s an Obama world…
Six Christians were arrested outside the White House this week including a priest and a pastor while praying.
American Freedom posted video:
World Net Daily reported on the arrests:
Six people peacefully protested the Obama administration’s mandate requiring employers to provide contraceptives, sterilization, and abortion-producing drugs by kneeling in prayer in front of the White House, and they quickly were arrested and whisked away by U.S. Park police.
“Occupy Wall Street protesters have been occupying federal property for months, but when we kneel in prayer, the police are called in and we are arrested,” said Father Wilde, one of the protesters.
1) Wealth and poverty are now more relative, than absolute, conditions.
2) Regulators are never the problem; a dearth of regulations always must be.
3) Debt is a mirage.
4) In our new age of diplomacy, being liked trumps being respected.
5) Collective national wealth is natural; private wealth is unnatural.
6) Medieval exemption is not medieval.
7) Victimhood is always sought, never questioned.
8) Neanderthals need nerds.
9) Ideology, for all the protestations of the zealot, is now not to be taken too seriously — not in this age of global leisure and affluence.
10) Owing in our new millennium shall be less stressful than saving.
Today it is contraception and the morning-after pill. Tomorrow it will be kosher slaughter, or matrilineal descent, or circumcision, or other matters of existential importance to Jewish observance. If the Obama administration gets away with forcing Catholic institutions to step across lines of life and death in the name of “health,” the federal government will have a precedent to legislate Judaism out of existence–as several other countries have already tried to do.
Well, yes. Therein lies our greatest problem. Former candidate Herman Cain speaking in Suwanee, Georgia (a suburb of Atlanta) said that when it comes to voting in this country, half the electorate is either stupid or ignorant when it comes to what’s going on in this country.
My fear is the more people become dependent on the government the less desire they will have to break free from this self-imposed slavery. The government will continue to regulate every aspect of our lives and we will forget how to govern ourselves. This is the end goal of the progressive left. Create a class of non-thinking citizens who are dependent on the government for their basic needs. It allows the government to grant and take away rights as they see fit and it destroys the sovereign individual. This is the vision the progressive left has for America and each of us. Until we get back to the basics and understand our rights are inalienable and nonnegotiable we will continue to march down the path towards tyranny. And for me this is completely unacceptable.
Saturday, February 18, 2012
Everyone keeps saying that values don’t count...or as in the case when Bill Clinton was running for president the first time...'character doesn't count'! According to this line of thinking, social issues don’t matter. Just give us jobs. Just talk about economic issues, don’t deal with morality. I say that if the values displayed by society as a whole are ‘valueless’ then it doesn’t matter how many jobs people have; that will only create a temporary lull in this destructively downward trend.
A ‘valueless’ society will eventually disintegrate into dystopia. Pundits are constantly advising everyone that welfare, taxes, national debt, massive government expenditures; government expansion into our lives, corruption, Social Security and such things is all we should be talking about. Yet all of these things came to be out of control problems because we stopped talking about the things that really make a society work. Values! In order for things to turn about the hearts and minds of the citizenry that must be captured. That is foundational. Fix the foundation and eveything else will fix itself.
Here is what we really need to get! Every problem has a solution. You may not have the necessary facts and understanding. You may not have enough money or the necessary technology. You may not have the will or desire to find it and if you do; you may not like the solution. None of this changes the fact the solution exists. Wisdom is the application of knowledge and understanding. Everything is the basics. Some things really are right and some things really are wrong. There really is such a thing as good and evil in the world. Everything has an historical context. Everything we are told should bear some resemblance to what we see going on in reality.
None of that is brain surgery. Thomas Sowell once noted that the difference between traditional wisdom and conventional wisdom is that traditional wisdom has stood the test of time. Conventional wisdom is merely what everyone believes at the moment but may not last as long as the latest ladies fashion. We really do need to get that.
I am afraid that it won’t happen though. Why? Because the corruption runs so deep that even the religious institutions, that are supposed to be the repository of societal mores, morals and values, are now part of the problem. There seems to be but a mere hair’s breadth of difference between their views and secularsim. Which has to make you wonder what they really believe!
What is the point of the working class working in an entitlement state like the USSA? It’s mostly a matter of pride, a vestigial remnant left over from when we were Americans. Within a generation or two this will die out completely because it no longer makes sense, as this graphic from Zero Hedge illustrates:
You can bring in about as much money working one week per month at minimum wage as you can slaving away all year for a $60K salary.
Senator Tom CoburnIn a move that is fated to incite political mutiny, Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla., left) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) unveiled a bold Medicare reform proposal on Thursday that would expedite a transition to private health insurance, increase the eligibility age for oncoming seniors, and enact higher premiums for middle- to upper-class retirees.
The two Republican Senators say they are not out to win a political popularity contest, but instead they want to stimulate a "grown-up" conversation among fellow lawmakers and the public about the need to reform an entitlement system that, in its current state, will induce serious fiscal consequences. "All of us in Congress are running around fixing everything except our biggest problem," Coburn affirmed in an interview. "If you don’t start fixing Medicare now, you can’t save it."
70% of all children born in the Black community are born to unwed mothers and doesn’t offend Liberals.
Prayer in the public schools offends Liberals.
Bill Clinton having sex in the Oval office with an impressionable 19 year old girl didn’t offend Liberals.
Two men having sex, doesn’t offend Liberals.
John F. Kennedy being a serial womanizer doesn’t offend Liberals.
Poor minority children (Black and Latino) locked in failing inner city schools doesn’t offend Liberals. They benefit by it socially and economically.
The late Sen Robert Bryd was a former KKK member never offended Liberals.
Legalized drugs wouldn’t offend Liberals.
Having sex with animals wouldn’t offend Liberals.
Having sex with underage children wouldn’t offend Liberals.
But having a woman put an aspirin between her knees is too much for Liberals to take.
Here’s what AEI’s foreign and defense policy scholars are reading for the week of February 11-17:
Michael V. Rienzi at SmallWarsJournal.com outlines Iran’s Likely Response to a U.S. Attack.
Jonathan S. Tobin at CommentaryMagazine.com asks Is There Really a Consensus Against Iran Containment?
Trevor Houser at The Peterson Institute for International Economics blog reports that Iran’s Food Supply Gets Pinched.
The Wall Street Journal editorial board explains how Delhi is turning out to be the mullahs’ last best friend in Iran’s Indian Enablers.
Adam Kredo at FreeBeacon.com reports on how a progressive anti-nuclear foundation is spending millions to shift the debate on Iran’s nuclear program away from military action and toward accepting Tehran as a nuclear power Public Radio Pay to Play.
Tom Joscelyn at LongWarJournal.org reports on the latest revelations from the Treasury Department that Iranian intelligence is supporting al Qaeda.
Paul Cruickshank, Nic Robertson, and Tim Lister at CNN.com’s Security Clearance blog report on Ibrahim al-Asiri, al Qaeda’s chief bomb-maker, in Al Qaeda’s biggest threat.
Praveen Swami in TheHindu.com writes on the Prospects of Pakistan’s Islamist resurgence.
Noah Schactman at Wired.com reports that Darpa Dodges the Obama Budget Death Ray, Keeps Its $2.8 Billion.
Justin Vaisse at ForeignPolicy.com reports that The Sick Man of Europe Is … Europe.
Also at ForeignPolicy.com David Yang reports that China has caught Lin-sanity.
Walter Russell Mead at the-american-interest.com reports that the Hamas Leadership Is On Speed Dating Circuit.
Finally (and not from the Onion) Seth Robson at StarsandStripes.com reveals that the Army Orders Soldiers to Wear Fake Breasts and ‘Empathy’ Bellies.
Brooks and Gittleman restrict their analysis to state and local government employees, but their findings are striking: state government workers receive salaries about even with private sector levels, while local government workers receive salaries around 9 percent above private sector levels. Once you include benefits, state employees are overpaid by around 9 percent and local government workers by around 18 percent. Moreover, there’s good reason to believe these estimates are conservative, since they exclude the value of retiree health coverage for public employees and understate the true value of defined benefit pensions.
You can’t say for sure what this implies for federal government employee pay, but they’re generally regarded as better paid than state and local government workers.
But red tape in America is no laughing matter. The problem is not the rules that are self-evidently absurd. It is the ones that sound reasonable on their own but impose a huge burden collectively. America is meant to be the home of laissez-faire. Unlike Europeans, whose lives have long been circumscribed by meddling governments and diktats from Brussels, Americans are supposed to be free to choose, for better or for worse. Yet for some time America has been straying from this ideal.
Swap “gambling” with about any freedom you can imagine and run it through that statement. You should be terrified. This is an argument almost any liberal or “progressive” would make to limit your freedoms. They consider freedom and rights to be government granted (or they don’t exist until government says they exist – and folks that’s not a “right”, that’s a privilege). They reserve the right to limit your freedom to make you conform to their idea of what is “right” or “good”.
Here’s a simple solution Mr. Santorum. If you oppose online gambling, don’t do it. But his argument here is fundamentally anti-freedom. It is his decision to limit your choice to act by claiming your action is destructive and must be “limited” by government do-gooders.
It is the very argument that I thought conservatives opposed.
This is hardly the most important issue on the planet, of course, but it is just one example of the odd way that Americans treat celebrity. Why is it that the death of a woman that most people never met seems to be more important to some people than if one of their neighbors, or indeed a member of their own family? What exactly is it about Whitney Houston that makes her funeral an event so newsworthy that all three cable “news” networks will be covering it live today? Perhaps I’m the odd person out here — after all, I was largely sickened by the way people over-reacted to the death of Diana Spencer in 1997, at least here in the United States — but I honestly don’t get why people let themselves get so wrapped up in what they think the lives of the singers, actors, or musicians they admire must be that we see reactions like this. Yes, it’s sad that Whitney Houston is dead, as it’s sad when anyone dies, but a Breaking News event complete with live funeral coverage and commentary? I simply cannot justify it.
I hate Republicans. The kind of "party" people who are every bit as addicted to governmental power as Democrats and think they know better than the average rabble in the grassroots.
The New Normal � Neptunus Lex: I can’t help thinking that this trend will be very bad for the country. Women with children and without college educations have a whole lot on their plate and not a lot of time or money to deal with it. Children who grow up in poorer, single-parent households tend to have significantly higher problems in school and elsewhere. Many will end up as wards of the state, in one sense or another.
The things we want to suppress, we tax. The things we want to encourage, we subsidize. We are taxing the hell out of success, and subsidizing dependency, even as we attack the old institutions which formed the basis for what we used to call morality.
This is what you get.
If Catholics can be ordered to violate their beliefs in the name of "health care", why can't atheists be ordered to attend church in the name of "health care".
The question is how "Middle Britain" has come to nod along with such a disgusting symmetry. And behind that lies the deeper question of how, with all evidence pointing to an imminent nuclear Iran, and with the Iranian terrorist-supporting regime waging a self-declared war against the west, people remain seemingly oblivious to the threat it poses not just to Israel but to the world.
The modus operandi of these thought police at Color of Change and ADL is to brand as racists and anti-Semites any writer who dares to venture outside the narrow corral in which they seek to confine debate. All the while prattling about their love of dissent and devotion to the First Amendment, they seek systematically to silence and censor dissent.
Without a hearing, they smear and stigmatize as racist, homophobic, or anti-Semitic any who contradict what George Orwell once called their “smelly little orthodoxies.” They then demand that the heretic recant, grovel, apologize, and pledge to go forth and sin no more.
Defy them, and they will go after the network where you work, the newspapers that carry your column, the conventions that invite you to speak. If all else fails, they go after the advertisers.
I know these blacklisters. They operate behind closed doors, with phone calls, mailed threats, and off-the-record meetings. They work in the dark because, as Al Smith said, nothing un-American can live in the sunlight.
Instapundit � Blog Archive � MARK STEYN: Brokest Nation In History Fusses Instead About Sex. Ten thousand Americans retire ev…
Ten thousand Americans retire every day, and leave insufficient progeny to pick up the slack. In effect, Nancy has rolled a giant condom over the entire American economy.
Testifying before Congress, Timmy Geithner referred only to “demographic challenges” — an oblique allusion to the fact that the U.S. economy is about to be terminally clobbered by 100 trillion dollars of entitlement obligations it can never meet.
And, as Chart 5-1 on page 58 of the official Obama budget “Analytical Perspectives” makes plain, your feckless, decadent rulers have no plans to do anything about it.
Instead, the Democrats shriek, ooh, Republican prudes who can’t get any action want to shut down your sex life! According to CBO projections, by midcentury mere interest payments on the debt will exceed federal revenues.
For purposes of comparison, by 1788 Louis XVI’s government in France was spending a mere 60% of revenues on debt service, and we know how that worked out for His Majesty shortly thereafter.
Not to worry, says Barry Antoinette. Let them eat condoms.
This is a very curious priority for a dying republic.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
This is liberalism/progressivism in its purest and most undiluted form. It does, in fact, want to weaken and eventually replace civil society and expand the reach of the state even into the internal life of the church. And it no longer even attempts to disguise its aims.
The American people can’t say we don’t know what the end game here is.
Excellence is under attack in the United States. In a remarkable and radical departure from what is truly the hallmark of Americanism, outstanding personal achievement is now actively demonized and vilified by President Obama under the guise of "fairness."
The separation of individual Americans from the majority by extraordinary success, by outstanding accomplishment that often leads to personal financial success and its rewards, is portrayed as a threat to society.
Stopping the rise of the individual as if it is an enemy of overall social good has become a dominant policy theme of the Obama administration and its most strident followers.
The 2010 health care legislation known as ObamaCare is nothing if not a case in point of this administration's broader war on excellence.
This sweeping legislation clearly represents a political and philosophical agenda, because it fails to address the single most important issue regarding reform — rising health care costs, the only serious crisis in America's health care — according to the government's own 2011 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid projections.
“The rate of unemployment in the United States has exceeded 8 percent since February 2009, making the past three years the longest stretch of high unemployment in this country since the Great Depression. Moreover, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that the unemployment rate will remain above 8 percent until 2014. The official unemployment rate excludes those individuals who would like to work but have not searched for a job in the past four weeks as well as those who are working part-time but would prefer full-time work; if those people were counted among the unemployed, the unemployment rate in January 2012 would have been about 15 percent. Compounding the problem of high unemployment, the share of unemployed people looking for work for more than six months—referred to as the long-term unemployed—topped 40 percent in December 2009 for the first time since 1948, when such data began to be collected; it has remained above that level ever since.”
In 2008, when he first ran for the Presidency, Barack Obama posed as a moderate most of the time. This time, he is openly running as a radical. His aim is to win a mandate for the fundamental transformation of the United States that he promised in passing on the eve of his election four years ago and that he promised again when he called his administration The New Foundation. In the process, he intends to reshape the Democratic coalition – to bring the old hypocrisy to an end, to eliminate those who stand in the way of the final consolidation of the administrative entitlements state, to drive out the faithful Catholics once and for all, to jettison the white working class, and to build a new American regime on a coalition of highly educated upper-middle class whites, feminists, African-Americans, Hispanics, illegal immigrants, and those belonging to the public-sector unions. To Americans outside this coalition, he intends to show no mercy.
GLENN G. LAMMI: “Court Should Dismiss Privacy Group’s Suit vs. FTC Over Google Buzz Settlement”
“On Friday, a federal court in Washington, D.C. will hear what the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) thinks about a lawsuit the online privacy advocate EPIC has filed demanding that FTC charge Google with violations of a settlement agreement between FTC and Google involving Google Buzz. [...] The issue here is whether a non-party to the FTC-Google agreement can force FTC to fine Google.”
PHILLIP KLEIN: “Obama’s High Wire Act on Insurance Mandate Crashes”
“By 2009, Obama was publicly touting the mandate. And in a famous interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that September, he insisted that the mandate to purchase health insurance was not a tax. Yet by the following June, things had changed. The Obama administration’s legal team was scrambling to respond to lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the health care law. [...] Acknowledging the mandate is a tax would mean that it was a direct violation of his pledge not to raise taxes on those earning under $250,000. But publicly denying that it is a tax directly contradicts the administration’s legal argument.”
NEW YORK POST EDITORIAL: “The Bad-Teacher Test”
“Team Cuomo sounded upbeat yesterday about a deal for a new system for rating teachers — and, presumably, firing bad ones — as its self-imposed Thursday deadline nears. Indeed, odds are good that New York’s biggest teachers union will strike an ‘agreement’ with the State Education Department — or that Gov. Cuomo will keep his vow to impose teacher-evaluation guidelines as part of his budget. But the devil resides very much in the details. Once the smoke clears, will public schools finally be able to easily rid themselves of incompetent teachers? The depressing answer: Not likely.”
EDUCATION - Cincinnati High School Paying Students to Come to School
“A Cincinnati high school is paying its students to come to school. The Dohn Community High School has launched a $40,000 incentive program to get students to come to class. The school’s CEO Ken Furrier told CBS Cleveland that students will get Visa gift cards for showing up everyday for school, being on time for class and not getting into trouble. Seniors would get $25 while underclassmen would get $10.”
ALCOHOL – Deadly Alcohol Needs Global Regulation, Health Expert Says
“The World Health Organization has meticulously documented the extent of alcohol abusein recent years and has published solid recommendations on how to reduce alcohol-related deaths, but this doesn’t go far enough, according to Devi Sridhar, a health-policy expert at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. In a commentary appearing today (Feb. 15) in the journal Nature, Sridhar argues that the WHO should regulate alcohol at the global level, enforcing such regulations as a minimum drinking age, zero-tolerance drunken driving, and bans on unlimited drink specials. ”
ANTITRUST – Firms Accused of Antitrust Behavior on Gas Leases
“Two companies accused of promising not to compete against each other in auctions of four natural gas leases on federal land have each agreed to pay $275,000 under a proposed settlement of antitrust allegations, federal prosecutors said Wednesday. The U.S. Department of Justice said this is the first time it has challenged an alleged anticompetitive bidding agreement for mineral rights leases. Its investigation stemmed from a whistleblower lawsuit.”
The Mandate Is an Attack in the Left’s War, Not a Solution to a Real Problem - By Andrew C. McCarthy - The Corner - National Review Online
I’ll repeat what I argued over the weekend: Obama is not doing this because there is a problem he believes must be solved; he is doing it because he believes he can get away with it. And if Obamacare is not repealed, he’s likely to be proved correct.
Even with a Volatile Stock Market, Personal Retirement Accounts Are Better and Safer than Social Security � International Liberty
Despite recent declines in the stock market, a worker who had invested privately over the past 40 years would have still earned an average yearly return of 6.85 percent investing in the S&P 500, 3.46 percent from corporate bonds, and 2.44 percent from government bonds. If workers who retired in 2011 had been allowed to invest the employee half of the Social Security payroll tax over their working lifetime, they would retire with more income than if they relied on Social Security. Indeed, even in the worst-case scenario—a low-wage worker who invested entirely in bonds—the benefits from private investment would equal those from traditional Social Security.
A fourth federally subsidized solar company has filed for bankruptcy, despite a $13.3 million taxpayer investment, the New American reports.
Washington, DC- Congressman Steve King (R-IA) released the following statement after questioning witnesses in a House Judiciary Committee hearing today about the executive overreach of President Obama’s recent recess appointments:
“Obama said that he ‘won’t take no for an answer’ regarding his nominees and now it’s clear he will abuse the power of his office to get his way,” said King. “The President’s administration continues to trample the Constitution. His actions have spurred the creation of a coalition of conservative and liberal constitutional scholars who all agree on the invalidity of his actions- some of whom I questioned today. Now President Obama is not only taking our liberty through socializing our healthcare, but he’s also manufacturing ‘recess appointments’ and disregards the plain meaning of the text of the Constitution.”
Brutally Honest: "The move to dismantle the Catholic conscience — or at least to redefine it as a threat to the public good — is underway"
Read what happens next and understand that it's coordinated, willful and frankly wicked.
To suggest otherwise is to be obtuse or ignorant... or an accomplice.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
In the face of all this, liberal Westerners, radical academics and gullible students have been brainwashed into thinking that Israel is the aggressor. As for the terrorism, they ignore it or call it "legitimate resistance". Our problem in the West is that we have lost our moral compass.
Yes, I want to see an eventual settlement that will lead to peace, but I am skeptical. The Palestinians have not demonstrated that they can even run a country-let alone one that would live in peace with Israel. It is easy to speak of a Palestinian nation, but once nationhood is granted, it has the sovereign power to make its own alliances with radical nations like Iran and receive shipments of God knows what. Who needs the establishment of another outlaw state?
Finally, I am convinced that this conflict is not about land, rather it is about religion. The Arab world will not accept a Jewish state in the region. That is why they tried to defeat Israel by war in 1948, 1967 and 1973. They failed, but the Palestinian "cause" is just an excuse to continue that war by other means.
Until the Palestinians decide to forget conquest and renounce terror, I cannot feel sympathy for them.
So what do we have here? Flags at half-staff for junkies, ships named for labor leaders, and Congressional members who either accused and disgraced our military, or simply were a victim of a loon, and the celebration of any-one-but-family charitable giving. Is our society is such moral decline that this is an acceptable trend by our elected leaders?
Or have our thresholds gotten so low that one really knows, or cares, what constitutes a hero/heroine, worthy of honor anymore?
The most recent budget submitted by President Obama continues his amazing streak. Courtesy of the Wall Street Journal, here is some of the data: Four years of spending of more than 24 percent of GDP, which translates into the four highest spending years since before the mid-point of the last century. A record four years of trillion-dollar plus deficits ($1.327 this year, an increase from last year). Revenues at historic lows because of an anemic recovery, including four years in a row when revenues won’t reach 16 percent of GDP. A record of more than $5 trillion in debt in a single presidential term. (During George W. Bush’s two terms, total deficit spending was $3.4 trillion.)
Jeffrey Anderson of the Weekly Standard points out that prior to Obama, our annual deficit spending had only exceeded 6 percent of GDP during the Civil War, World War I, and World War II. But during Obama’s four years in the White House, annual deficit spending will average 8.4 percent of GDP (the figure is higher – 9.1 percent – if you count 2009, which some argue you should because Obama’s $800 billion stimulus passed in February).
These numbers are important, but they need to be understood above all as a manifestation of a particular philosophy, which some have called reactionary liberalism. Barack Obama has an almost undiluted attachment for and belief in the wondrous powers of the federal government. He believes the role of the state is to redistribute wealth and level out differences. He would trade off greater prosperity in all classes and income brackets in order to narrow the gap in income inequality, which he considers to be a moral offense. Obama wants to punish wealth creators, empower unelected bureaucrats, undermine private enterprise and centralize power.
Beyond even that, Obama wants government to weaken, and eventually replace, civil society, create greater dependency, and expand the state’s reach into every nook and cranny of life, including into the internal life of the church. And at a time when Medicare in particular is driving us toward a Greece-like crisis, the president opposes any modernization of our entitlement state and savages those who are offering up reforms.
More than any president in our lifetime, Barack Obama identifies the state with society and wants society absorbed by the state.
This is what is at the heart of the progressive project, and leading that project in the 21st century is the president of the United States. It is quite a thing to behold.
Sallie James continues to make the case for shutting down the Export-Import Bank. Her case is unassailable. Such corporate welfare – which is all that the Ex-Im Bank is in business to distribute – is both unethical and economically harmful.
Walter Williams draws our attention to this news story about government-school officials’ obnoxious behavior. To say that government-school officials are out to lunch is a vast understatement.
Writing in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times, Jonah Goldberg eloquently challenges the absurd notion that government can mandate that health-care be free. Here’s an especially good line from Goldberg’s column:
It’s amazing that [modern-day, i.e., anti-] liberals and libertarians can see eye to eye on ending federal bullying on the sale of raw milk, but liberals see no threats from a federal takeover of healthcare and the transformation of insurers into de facto branches of the government.
Now, with the HHS “contraceptive mandate” (which, as noted above, is also a sterilization and abortifacent “mandate”), the administration claims that it is not violating the First Amendment by requiring Catholic institutions to provide “services” that the Catholic Church believes are objectively evil. That bizarre claim may well be another constitutional bridge too far. But the very fact that the administration issued these regulations, and that the White House press secretary blithely dismissed any First Amendment concerns when asked whether there were religious freedom issues involved here, tell us something very important, and very disturbing, about the cast of mind in the Executive Branch.
It is no exaggeration to describe that cast of mind as “soft totalitarianism”: an effort to eliminate the vital role in health care, education, and social service played by the institutions of civil society, unless those institutions become extensions of the state. As my colleague Yuval Levin has pointed out, it’s the same cast of mind that gave us Obamacare (which massively consolidates the health insurance industry into a small number of players who function like public utilities) and the Dodd-Frank financial sector reform (which tries to do to banks what Obamacare did to insurance).
The social doctrine of the Catholic Church emphasizes the importance of the mediating institutions of civil society in living freedom nobly and well. John Paul II coined the phrase “the subjectivity of society” to refer to these institutions, which include the family, religious communities, and voluntary organizations of all sorts. In Centesimus Annus, the late pope taught that, among their many other contributions to the common good, these institutions are crucial schools of freedom in which the tyrants that all of us are at age two are turned into democrats: the kind of people who can build free and virtuous societies.
It seems increasingly clear that the Obama administration does not share this vision of a richly textured democracy, in which civil society plays an important, independent role. Rather, it sees only the state and the individual, honoring the institutions of civil society insofar as they can be turned into simulacra of the state. Those with a sense of the ironies of American history will find it, well, ironic that it should be the Catholic Church—long held suspect for its alleged anti-democratic tendencies—that is now cast in the role of chief defender of the fundamental principles of democracy. But that is the task that Catholics have been given.
It is a task in which we dare not fail—for our sake, and for the future of American democracy.
How to Cut the Cost of Contraceptives by Regulating Less, David Henderson | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty
Nevertheless, there is a way that the federal government now cuts access to contraceptives in a way that substantially raises the cost. Were the government to get rid of the regulation that does this, women's access to contraceptives would rise and the cost would fall.
What is the regulation? It's the one that requires contraceptive pills to be prescription drugs. If, instead, drug companies were allowed to sell contraceptives over the counter, access would rise and cost would fall.
The slew of recent articles, both here and elsewhere, about the terrible error Christian clerics have committed by embracing the welfare state should have a lot of Americans -- 74% by the most recent census -- contemplating the roots of that monumental mistake. Jesus told us to "love your neighbor as you love yourself." Indeed, He made that the Second Great Commandment. It could hardly be misinterpreted as "empower the State to provide for your neighbor and superintend everything he does, on pain of punishment."
Yet we have subcontracted our Christ-decreed love of neighbor to the State. The practical temporal consequences have been pernicious beyond my powers of description. Nor do they include any measurable improvement in our neighbor's condition. So it falls to us to ask ourselves why -- and after that, what can be done about it.
Examine any other city with an as uninterrupted stream of progressive policies and long-term Democratic rule and you will find exactly the same pattern: Wide spread corruption, bloated government budgets, dwindling tax base, reduced services. See Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, Newark, Camden, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Atlanta...